Coming off an NCAA runner-up finish and its second-straight Big Ten Conference championship, the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team was picked atop the 2023-24 preseason poll as announced by the league office Monday. Six Golden Gophers also were honored as Preseason All-B1G selections with Jimmy Snuggerud and Luke Mittelstadt landing on the first team, Bryce Brodzinski, Mike Koster and Justen Close earning second-team honors, and Ryan Chesley picking up an honorable mention nod.

Snuggerud returns to the Maroon and Gold as the defending B1G scoring champion, a title he shared with linemate Logan Cooley a season ago. He was one of just two players to be a unanimous first-team selection following a 50-point campaign during his freshman year, the ninth-most points by a Minnesota rookie in program history. The Chaska, Minn., native recorded a point in 29 of 40 games played and had an 11-game point streak, the fifth-longest streak of any player in the country.

Mittelstadt shined down the stretch for the Gophers and his two-goal performance, including the game winner, in the national semifinals earned him a spot on the NCAA Frozen Four All-Tournament Team. With 21 points during the campaign, he became the first Minnesota defenseman to reach the 20-point mark as a freshman since Erik Johnson in 2006-07. A native of Eden Prairie, Minn., Mittelstadt posted 15 of those points in the 22 games he played against B1G opponents.

Brodzinski is the second-leading scorer back for the ‘U’ after a career-best 31 points a season ago on 19 goals and 12 assists and also was selected to be an alternate captain for the Maroon and Gold in 2023-24. The Blaine, Minn., product scored 13 times in league play last year and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team as the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Fargo Regional after recording a hat trick during a four-point effort in the opening matchup against Canisius.

Koster will wear a ‘C’ on his Minnesota sweater for his senior season as a veteran presence along the blue line after finishing 2022-23 with a career-high 29 points. He had the first four-point performance of his career in a home win over Ohio State Feb. 24, totaling two goals and two assists, which earned the Chaska, Minn., native B1G Second Star of the Week accolades. Koster also excelled in the Gophers’ postseason run by recording six points in six games played, four of which came in the NCAA Tournament.

Close was a Mike Richter Award Semifinalist a year ago and landed on the All-B1G Second Team as he led the conference in nearly every statistical category and held opponents to two or fewer goals in 25 outings. A product of Kindersley, Saskatchewan, he was a four-time B1G Star of the Week for Minnesota in 2022-23, turning in one of the best single-season efforts and a 26-10-1 record. Close ranked second in shutouts (6), fourth in save percentage (.927) and sixth in goals against average (2.02) in team history.

Chesley made an immediate impact as a freshman last season and reached double-digit points in 36 games played. He posted his first collegiate point during an opening-night victory and went on to have two goals and eight assists overall, helping the team to a perfect 8-0 record when he was on the scoresheet. The native of Mahtomedi, Minn., blocked 52 shots for the year and finished with a +15 rating, while adding a physical edge for the Gophers defensive corps.


Position, Name, School, Year, Hometown
Forward, Gavin Brindley, Michigan, So., Estero, Fla.
Forward, Jimmy Snuggerud #, Minnesota, So., Chaska, Minn.
Forward, Stephen Halliday, Ohio State, So., Glenwood, Md.
Defenseman, Seamus Casey, Michigan, So., Fort Myers, Fla.
Defenseman, Luke Mittelstadt, Minnesota, So., Eden Prairie, Minn.
Goaltender, Ryan Bischel #, Notre Dame, Gr., Medina, Minn.

Position, Name, School, Year, Hometown
Forward, Rutger McGroarty, Michigan, So., Lincoln, Neb.
Forward, Frank Nazar III, Michigan, So., Mount Clemens, Mich.
Forward, Bryce Brodzinski, Minnesota, Gr., Blaine, Minn.
Defenseman, Mike Koster, Minnesota, Sr., Chaska, Minn.
Defenseman, Drew Bavaro, Notre Dame, Sr., Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
Goaltender, Justen Close, Minnesota, Gr., Kindersley, Saskatchewan

Position, Name, School, Year, Hometown
Forward, Dylan Duke, Michigan, Jr., Strongsville, Ohio
Forward, Joey Larson, Michigan State, So., Brighton, Mich.
Forward, Landon Slaggert, Notre Dame, Sr., South Bend, Ind.
Defenseman, Ryan Chesley, Minnesota, So., Mahtomedi, Minn.
Defenseman, Jimmy Dowd Jr., Penn State, Sr., Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.
Goaltender, Trey Augustine, Michigan State, Fr., South Lyon, Mich.

# unanimous selection

1. Minnesota
2. Michigan
3. Michigan State
4. Notre Dame
5. Wisconsin
6. Penn State
7. Ohio State

(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)

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